Kimmy Dora and the Temple of Kiyeme
Alas, the new Eugene Domingo film was another crowd-pleasing success. It is expectedly so since Eugene, after numerous accolades and a string of noteworthy comedic performances, has established herself as the new It-girl of local cinema, a megastar. Kimmy Dora and the Temple of Kiyeme for the second time around was carried by her very theatrical performances (she played three roles). But this one’s pretty inferior. The laughs weren’t louder than the first and despite having a more adventurous plot and gag-filled mishaps, the script felt more predictable. The production was at least an improvement, letting Eugene enjoy the costumes and the audiences enjoy the beauty of Korean culture. Gags aside, the very departure of the film is its inclusion of a horror element. Employing this for additional spice, the film also introduces a relevant feat of repression. So the plot goes like this: the Goh Dong Hae family experiences the haunting of a deceased family friend who happens to be the patriarch’s (played by Ariel Ureta) Korean ex-girlfriend. The spirit goes on to take the souls of the men in Kimmy and Dora’s lives and the twins must let her soul rest in peace in order to retrieve the souls of their father and boyfriends (Zanjoe Marudo and Dingdong Dantes).
It can be argued that the horror element of vengeful ghost is only an excuse for conflict in an otherwise predictable comedy. This aside, the film extinguishes the eruptions that could’ve given the film a little more action. Consider Kimmy’s frustrations of taking responsibility for almost all the family’s mishaps. This has been the issue of her character since the first film. Towards the end of the sequel, she is still the only one who seems to be providing solutions for the film’s major problems. Kimmy is an independent working woman who represents a new high regard for the working Filipina in the corporate ladder. Domingo portrays her with frosty bitchiness a la Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestley with emotional troubles and desire for only money and success. It’s also interesting how the anguished female ghost takes back hilariously at the men. Her needs were taken for granted as the story left her side for the horror one. The horror story conflict is resolved and we are left once again with escapist bourgeois comedy. Since the film isn’t really interested in feminism, well what other issues could this film raise?
Let’s return to the ghost itself. The reason for its horrific rage was because Mr. Go Dong Hae left her as an adolescent and married a Filipina when he chose to study in the Philippines. This Korean girl Sang Kang Kang (cosplayer Alodia Gosiengfiao) locked herself up in her room to die. The choice of the Korean man isn’t much of a surprise for the contemporary Filipino setting where a “Korean invasion” has been occurring in the past decade. Sun Star Cebu (2011) reports “in 2010, Koreans overtook Americans as the biggest group of foreigners to visit the Philippines. More than 740,000 Koreans visited the Philippines last year, accounting for 21 percent of all foreign tourist arrivals, according to the Department of Tourism.” Koreans enjoy life here in the Philippines because they can absolutely afford it. And with their continuous travels to the country, a cultural shift may take place. Kimmy and Dora themselves are what Sun.Star Cebu calls the “Kopinos”, the Korean-Filipino children born from the previous generations of the two countries’ budding relationship. They are even bound to continue the two countries’ relationship by forcefully marrying a Korean tycoon’s son, which was comically lifted because the groom-to-be is a gluttonous damulag.
But then also, what could this imply on Filipinos? You dare not ask for the obvious: we are enjoying a great deal of Korean culture. From pop music (KPop), “Koreanovelas” to Korean restaurants and shops, well it is indeed a subtle invasion. It only piles up to our own colonial mentality, especially the teenage group.
Sang Kang Kang’s vengefulness is a Korean response to this Kopino phenomenon. An interesting fact about her is that she is a part of the ethnic groups of their country. One could imagine how disappointed the uncolonized Koreans are to the ones who left for newer lifestyles elsewhere. Of course, the film ends on a positive note. The ghost was cast away and they failed to please their father’s insistence of a continuation of Korean-Filipino relationship (coz after all, it was only all about money). If only the horror element of a vengeful forgotten culture has been taken seriously, we would have seen a modern horror film that challenges the negative outcome of Korean-Filipino ties.
Sun.Star Cebu. (2011). Help on the way for Kopinos in Cebu. Retrieved August 20, 2012 from http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cebu/local-news/2011/03/13/help-way-kopinos-cebu-144575